Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:TLX) targeting prostate cancer


by Anna Napoli

Telix Pharmaceuticals Limited (ASX:TLX) CEO, Dr Christian Behrenbruch discusses the company’s development pipeline and the benefits of using its diagnostic and therapeutic products to deliver correct doses.

Anna Napoli: Welcome to the Finance News Network. I'm Anna Napoli and joining me now from Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:TLX) is cofounder and CEO Dr Christian Behrenbruch. Christian, welcome back.

Dr Christian Behrenbruch: Thank you Anna. Nice to be here.

Anna Napoli: First up, can you remind us about Telix Pharmaceuticals? What's your focus and how is the company progressing?

Dr Christian Behrenbruch: We specialise in the treatment of two different types of cancer: urologic malignancies, so prostate cancer and kidney cancer; and also an aggressive type of brain cancer called glioblastoma. We are a pretty late stage company so many of our programs are getting quite close to market.

Anna Napoli: Christian, before we talk about your portfolio, can you tell us about the science behind the approach?

Dr Christian Behrenbruch: Basically, when we treat cancer we use three tools. We use radiation, surgery and drugs. What our approach does is it combines radiation and drugs together. Traditionally what you would do is you would put a patient in the basement of a hospital and you would shoot x-ray beams at them from a linear accelerator. Instead of doing that approach, we use drugs to carry the radiation to the patient's tumour and it's a much more effective way to treat patients.

Anna Napoli: Turning to your development pipeline, can you tell us more starting with your prostate cancer treatments?

Dr Christian Behrenbruch: So one of the neat things about our products is we actually get two products in each indication. So if we inject a small amount of radiation into a patient we get an image. So we can put a patient into a thing called a PET scanner and we can get an amazing picture from the toes to the nose of the patient, everywhere where that target is expressed or where that drug goes.

Dr Christian Behrenbruch: So we develop an imaging agent and a therapeutic for each of the indications that we go after. So our prostate cancer program is the most advanced program and our imaging agent is just about ready to go to market. So we have completed the clinical development. The renal cancer program, or the kidney cancer program, is a little bit behind. It's in phase three trials right now and our glioblastoma program is in phase two development.

Anna Napoli: What's the market size for, say, the prostate cancer?

Dr Christian Behrenbruch: So prostate cancer is our biggest opportunity. It is about five times bigger than kidney cancer and brain cancer which are much less common cancers. The prostate cancer market is a multibillion dollar opportunity today but the drugs that are available don't have a very large survival benefit to patients, usually just a few months. So we think that we can pick up a fairly substantial part of the 5 or 6 billion dollar market for treating metastatic prostate cancer patients.

Anna Napoli: Christian, what then is the competitive landscape and your strategy?

Dr Christian Behrenbruch: So the field that we're in, which is nuclear medicine, is a pretty nascent field from a commercial vantage point. So there are relatively few companies in our space. Our competitor actually was just acquired by Novartis for US$2.1 billion, so there is a lot of commercial attention to this space. In the prostate cancer arena we have a bit of competition because delivering radiation to treat prostate cancer is very effective. But in the renal cancer and glioblastoma arena we have very little commercial competition.

Anna Napoli: Can you give us a sense of where Telix is in terms of commercialisation of these treatments?

Dr Christian Behrenbruch: Well, it's a big inflection point for us right now because we have actually started to make some early revenue. So at the end of December, we did a soft launch of our first product in prostate imaging and about 100 cancer centres around the world now use that product routinely under a limited use. We are in the process of preparing for product approvals in the US and Europe which will take about a year and the market opportunity then for the prostate cancer imaging is a multi-hundred-million-dollar revenue opportunity that will unlock very quickly for the company.

Anna Napoli: Christian, it sounds like there's a lot of opportunity there. What are the three major milestones for Telix over the next six months?

Dr Christian Behrenbruch: Well in the next couple of months we will be able to give shareholders clarity on how European and US regulators feel about our prostate imaging products. So we'll have clarity on the pathway for approval there. We'll also be shortly seeking guidance on our phase three trial design for our prostate therapy. That is a huge inflection point for an oncology company to become a phase three therapy company. Then last of all, our kidney cancer imaging trial is in recruitment and we're hoping to still complete enrolment by the end of the year or early next year. That will be then our second completed product. So, there's a lot to watch out for and certainly a lot of important inflection points to hit this year.

Anna Napoli: There is a lot going on. Christian Behrenbruch, thank you for the update.

Dr Christian Behrenbruch: Thank you for your time Anna.